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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bush team tries "signing statement" strategy after Bali accord

The Bush administration is attempting a "signing statement" after the Bali agreement. The Telegraph reports
The White House has declared it has "serious concerns" about a historic deal to negotiate a new climate change treaty struck in Bali.

After a sleepless night and a day of high drama in Bali, the United States agreed to a compromise with the European Union to avoid mentioning any target figures for slashing greenhouse gas emissions.

But the country, which reneged on the Kyoto Protocol six years ago, has since issued a statement questioning the role of developing countries involved in the deal.

The White House, while recognising that there were positive conclusions from the conference, said the "United States does have serious concerns about other aspects of the decision as we begin the negotiations.

"The negotiations must proceed on the view that the problem of climate change cannot be adequately addressed through commitments for emissions cuts by developed countries alone," it said.

"We must give sufficient emphasis to the important and appropriate role that the larger emitting developing countries should play in a global effort to address climate change."
Signing statements are, of course, one of the extra-legal measures this administration has taken to legislation the president actually signs. Signing statements have no standing in law, and are simply an assertion, a fig leaf to cover the policy of doing what it wants no matter what.

The international community may not recognize the ploy, but it ought to be concerned, since it is emblematic of the absence of integrity in force in Washington. Negotiate a deal, then walk away with a statement of what you will do. Dishonest? Yes. And in full view of the world.